Jonathan, Go Home


Before a new poll date was announced, that “the government did not come this far to stop the election only to lose its case at the Council of State.” Cynicism is, sometimes, the father of prophecy.

Yet, I must admit that my prediction fell short. From the content of the letter signed by the service chiefs to the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Attahiru Jega, not only does President Goodluck Jonathan want to postpone the election, he wants to stop it from taking place – if he can.

And he just might. The letter to Jega urged him to postpone the election for six weeks, “in the first instance.” I don’t know why Jonathan is angry with Jega for saying it as it is; that the decision to postpone the election once – maybe twice or more, or maybe never even have it at all – belongs elsewhere outside INEC.

I’ll be a yam head if by now I do not understand that Jonathan has a peculiar weakness for getting angry with the victim.

The road to Jonathanistan, the place where predators flourish and victims get the stick, is paved with misdirected anger.

In 2013, Channels TV did an exclusive story on the rotten condition of the police college in Lagos, the place where police recruits are supposed to be trained. If it were a pigsty, pigdom would protest. Yet this was the place where underpaid and overworked recruits were consigned to spend 15 months of their lives.

When Channels TV aired the video, you’d think the president would be so outraged at the police authorities that he would castrate the police top brass. But no, not Jonathan. Instead, his anger was directed at Channels TV and those who let them in!

My friend, Bashir Gwandu, raised the alarm over the N53billion frequency scam at NCC and got shafted for opening his mouth.

It happened again with Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, then the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He had blown the whistle on the $20billion oil proceeds unaccounted for by the NNPC. Instead of Jonathan to get mad at the petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke and the finance ministry, whose business it is to ensure that the money enters the till, he gave Sanusi a bloody nose and kicked him out.

That’s the road to Jonathanistan, the place where cronyism reigns and civics is left to fools and idiots.

Sanusi should have known better than to touch that woman. She is the apple of Jonathan’s eye, one of the five presidents in the presidential godhead. For the nearly five years she has been at the helm, no man, woman or institution, great or small, has been able to get her to account for anything: not the $20billion; not the N10billion air shuttle service; not the loss of $1billion monthly to oil theft. Yet, she swore to someone I know that, by the grace of God, she’ll reign in the petroleum ministry till 2019.

She’ll reign in Jonathanistan, where anything is possible.

Why is the president angry with Jega? For five years, he has watched Boko Haram grow from riffraff to a savage force, kidnapping our girls, killing our citizens in their thousands, displacing millions of people and planting their flags in a chunk of our territory the size of Northern Ireland.

Why is he angry? I’m not saying that he started Boko Haram or that persons within and outside his government may not have been complicit in prolonging the conflict for their own morbid benefits.

But, Christ, he’s the commander-in-chief! If his wife, Dame Patience, could openly mock the grieving parents of Chibok because of her unbelief, and he, on his part, did not lift a finger until weeks after the girls had been missing, why is he surprised that things have only got worse?

And he’s angry with who? Jega said, repeatedly, that he was ready for the election. The argument for postponement was not Jega’s preparedness or otherwise, but the claim by the security services that they would be unable to guarantee security in four states in the north east for two days.

I don’t know how Gombe, the only PDP state of the four, got into the mix. But it’s not difficult to see the indecent haste to throw in a PDP state in the narrative, just to make the story look good.

Jonathan should face his service chiefs. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia – even Syria, a country still in the midst of a dreadful civil war – have all had elections without failing a date. It’s a shame that in Jonathanistan, a place where any excuse will pass, the service chiefs can neither secure the country for two days nor fall on their own sword.

Why is Jonathan angry with Jega? He should be angry with the service chiefs who promised to end Boko Haram one year ago only to force the country to look up to Chad, Niger and Cameroon for salvation. He should be angry with his service chiefs who have become the military wing of the PDP, keener to install state governors and deploy troops in the private homes of opposition leaders than to fight Boko Haram.

Even if they kill all the Boko Haram members today – and I pray they do – the question will still be asked to their disadvantage: why did they wait till now, till after over 10,000 innocent blood has been shed, before they did it?

Just like the N10 petrol change came to haunt this government, its criminal negligence in the fight against Boko Haram won’t just go away.

Jonathan should be angry with those around him, those who have been deceiving him, telling him that his worst enemies are Rotimi Amaechi, Timipre Sylvia, Nasir El-Rufai and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. He should be angry with the Doyin Okupes around him who told him that they should be called bastards if APC survived its first year.

He should be angry with all those who told him that clearing the fertiliser scam alone is all you need to fight corruption. He should be angry with himself for being an onlooker at his own party.

For the first time in Jonathan’s life, for the first time in the life of his party (the PDP), and for the first time since 1979, Nigeria is having an election, a real contest.

This is unusual in Jonathanistan. It’s an unusual road that takes the president home.

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